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OCD - Dr Heather Sequeira: Consultant Psychologist


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is an anxiety disorder that causes debilitating obsessions and compulsions. OCD stands for obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Below are some OCD facts, followed by OCD treatment information for those looking to find OCD help.

So what is OCD? OCD involves both obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are where someone has repetitive distressing thoughts, urges or images that won’t go away – these are called obsessions . Examples OCD obsessions include fears of contamination leading them to wash their hands until they’re red raw; worries about accidentally harming someone; or violent or sexual thoughts that the person finds completely abhorrent and that they are desperate to get rid of or ‘make safe’.

Compulsions are the behaviours someone engages in to try and reduce their anxiety or feel ‘in control’ as a result of their OCD obsessions. Compulsions are aimed at reducing the anxiety brought on by the thoughts and can include behaviours such as:

  • Checking – for instance, checking that the door is locked or that the stove has been turned off 
  • Counting – such as counting and recounting things like steps, objects or words 
  • Repeating – repeating routine words or motions over and over out loud (or in your head)
  • Arranging – arranging items perfectly symmetrically, alphabetising books, etc. 
  • Cleaning and washing – more extreme than other people
  • Asking for reassurance from others about whether an intrusive thought could actually happen 
  • Checking facts online

Most people with OCD also experience compulsions that they do in their head. Mental compulsions may include:

  • Checking thoughts or memories for accuracy 
  • Reassuring ones self about a situation or that they are not a ‘bad person’
  • Avoiding situations or people that bring on the intrusive thoughts 
  • Thinking a good thought to cancel out the bad one (neutralising)

People with OCD know these obsessions are unreasonable and excessive but they cannot control them. The anxiety caused by having these obsessive thoughts can cause significant stress for those who experience it. This can lead to more problems in life such as difficulty at home or work because of how much time it takes away from important activities. It’s also important not to ignore your symptoms because if left untreated, OCD can get worse over time and interfere even more with daily life. 

That’s why seeking help early on is so important!

OCD is a very real condition that can cause a great deal of distress. It’s also much more common than many people think, with OCD affecting 2% of the population. 


There are many myths and misconceptions about OCD, which can often lead to people struggling with the condition feeling isolated and alone. Some people might be told that there is no help available or that they just need to learn to live with it. It is important to know that this is not true! 

OCD is successfully treated with a specific type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) that has been adapted for OCD. With this approach OCD is considered to be a very treatable condition. Sometimes, people receive the wrong type of CBT that involves attempting to challenge your thoughts. This is rarely successful and can leave people feeling that they can't get better. If this is the case for you, don't give up because it is likely that your therapist was insufficiently specialist in OCD. Do find a therapist who is a specialist in the CBT that has been adapted for helping people with OCD. Therapy is very effective once you get the right approach. You should start feeling relief from this problem after a few sessions, even if you have been suffering from OCD for a long time.

There is no shame in asking for help, and with the right treatment, you can manage your OCD and live a happy and fulfilling life.